It’s been a while since you have heard from me about the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA 2K League affiliate T-Wolves Gaming. After a heartbreaking loss in THE TURN, and the subsequent trading of Brandon “Hood” Caicedo, things have been relatively quiet for the T-Wolves.
They were the beneficiary of another bye-week in Week 6 of the regular season, and in Week 7 they only played one game, a devastating loss to Cavs Legion GC, a game in which they took a 58-42 lead into the fourth quarter, only to be outscored 23-6 in the last quarter of the game resulting in a 65-64 loss.
It was a total gut punch for a team that seemed to really make positive strides during THE TURN, and although they showed some chemistry issues in the games following, it felt like one that could make a strong run in the second half of the season and play their way into the playoff picture.
Players attempted to keep their spirits up following the loss, but some social media “chirping” between players on Cavs Legion GC, as well as the countless 2K League fans who felt it was necessary to clown the T-Wolves players for such a disappointing effort, caused many people to wonder how a team that still doesn’t have a dedicated head coach could bounce back.
With the third tournament of the season, THE TICKET, coming up next week it wouldn’t be dramatic to say that these Week 8 games were the most important games of the season for T-Wolves Gaming. Securing a good seed in the tournament, as well as gaining some momentum going forward in the season, would be key for moving up enough in the standings to secure a playoff berth.
So, were they up for the test? Let’s find out.
Game #1 – Hawks Talon GC
Despite only securing a six-point lead after the first quarter, a lead that no T-Wolves Gaming fan would feel even remotely comfortable with, this game never felt even remotely close. To put it lightly, the T-Wolves absolutely destroyed the Hawks.
Almost outscoring the entire opposing team in the first half, Michael “BearDaBeast” Key proved to be a problem for the Hawks, a problem they tried desperately to solve but failed at miserably. After outscoring the Hawks 17-5 in the second quarter, T-Wolves took a 35-17 lead into the second half and never looked back.
Things got even worse for the Hawks in the second quarter, as turnovers began to pile up, every single one of them seemed to end with an emphatic dunk or transition 3-pointer for the T-Wolves. Even when the game was certainly out of reach for the Hawks, the T-Wolves didn’t let up, outscoring them 35-14 in the fourth quarter.
The final result was a mindblowing 43-point loss for Hawks Talon GC, a deficit larger than the Hawks even scored in this game (41). “BearDaBeast” took home ‘Player Of The Game’ honors with 30 points and nine assists, while every other member of the team scored in double digits, including another impressive performance by Mihad “FEAST” Feratovic who finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
It would be difficult to find a more complete performance by any team in the entire league this season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the struggling T-Wolves Gaming squad.
The T-Wolves had a chance to leapfrog a couple of other teams in the league if they could win their next game, resulting in a first-round bye in next week’s THE TICKET.
Game #2 – Utah Jazz Gaming
From the opening tip of this game, you got the sense the T-Wolves were going to pick up right where they left off against Hawks Talon GC. With T-Wolves gaming jumping out to a lightning-quick 7-0 lead, Jazz Gaming was forced to call a quick timeout in an effort to both regroup, but also attempt to slow down the momentum the T-Wolves had already gained.
Similar to the game against Hawks Talon GC, “BearDaBeast” proved to be an issue for the Jazz early in this game. Finishing the first half with 19 points, the two sides were very vocal with their trash talk throughout this the majority of this game, with BearDaBeast going head-to-head with Shaka “Yeah I Compete” Browne and DeMar “Deedz” Butler multiple times throughout.
The chirping continued into the second half, where an explosive start to the third quarter helped Jazz Gaming take the lead over the T-Wolves. Some sloppy defensive play and careless turnovers plagued the T-Wolves throughout much of the quarter and many wondered if they would be able to hold their composure and finish strong, something they have struggled with throughout the season.
However, a clutch buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Josiah “JoJo” Oetjen to close out the third quarter gave the T-Wolves a one-point lead heading into the final quarter, and the team’s communication throughout the timeout between quarters was strong, with each player identifying weaknesses in the Jazz’s defensive schemes and volunteering ideas on how to capitalize.
Even though “BearDaBeast” scored just four points in the second half of this game, his passing became a key aspect of the T-Wolves ability to score late in this game, dishing out 11 assists with no one benefitting more from his unselfishness than Jordan “JMoneyRep817” Martinez who finished the game with 22 points.
Luckily, all the momentum the Jazz carried through the third quarter diminished and they literally couldn’t buy a bucket in the fourth, and the T-Wolves were able to outscore them 15-7 over the final six minutes to cruise to a 69-60 victory.
“BearDaBeast” was once again named ‘Player of the Game’ but shortly into his post-game interview, decided to hand the mic off to his teammate “JMoneyRep817” who he said was actually the best player on the court. While it might be up for interpretation who deserved the honor, it was clear to everyone else that “BearDaBeast” was the most important player on the floor for the T-Wolves all week long.
In an interview before the game started, “JMoneyRep817” said that in order for T-Wolves Gaming to make the playoffs that they “Need to win out.”
While the situation might not be as dire as Jordan claims, the T-Wolves maintaining that mindset every time they step onto the court will prove to be key for the success of this team.
Unfortunately, the team will still have to compete in a play-in game on Thursday night for THE TICKET, but going 2-0 this week, one of which came in a dominating fashion, will provide some much-needed momentum going forward.
A strong performance in this week’s tournament could be the difference between mounting a strong playoff push or calling the season early.